Rent and Housing Benefit
The Council decides how much rent and other charges you must pay. Paying your rent each week on time helps to keep the rent as low as possible for all tenants.
Your weekly rent includes:
- basic rent – the charge for providing your home;
- water rates – the charge for water and sewerage (the Council collects this money for the water company).
Changes in rent and other charges
Any changes in the amount of rent and other charges you pay usually take effect in April. The Council will send a letter giving you reasonable notice of any change. This letter is called a Notice of Variation.
When to pay your rent
Your tenancy conditions say you must pay your weekly rent every Monday. You can pay your rent every fortnight or month if you prefer, but you must:
- agree this with us
- always pay your rent in advance; your account should never be in arrears.
- contact us as soon as possible if you can’t pay your rent on time, and arrange to clear any arrears within a reasonable time
How to pay your rent
There are several ways to pay your rent – you can choose the one that suits you. Please see the “How to contact us” section at the front of the handbook for more details.
The Council will send you a rent statement twice a year showing your balance. This is usually in March and September. You can also ask us for a current rent balance at any time. We can give you a statement if you call into either of our offices, but you must have proof of identity. You can ask us to send a statement to your home at any time. Check the statement carefully; if you have any questions, contact your Income Officer.
If your rent account is in credit because you have paid too much, you can apply to your Income Officer for a refund, or you can leave the credit in your account to pay your future rent.
Tenants who receive state benefits or who are on a low income can apply for Housing Benefit to help pay their rent. You may be entitled to Housing Benefit even if you are working. What you get depends on:
- you and your partner’s income and savings – some benefits such as disability living allowance or attendance allowance aren’t counted as income
- the number of grown-up children or other adults you have living with you – your entitlement to Housing Benefit is reduced if you have non-dependents (for example, lodgers or children who have left school) living with you
- the amount of rent you must pay-only your basic rent is covered, not water rates
You can get an application form and advice on claiming Housing Benefit from either of our offices or any of the Council’s Area Housing Offices.
Money and Debt Advice
Whether you want to get to grips with budgeting or are looking for a bit of free, confidential advice on how to get out of financial difficulty, our Successful Tenancies Adviser is here to help. We can also support you to maximise your income and plan for a stable financial future.
Things we can help with:
- Confidential money and debt advice and help to plan for the future
- Help with setting up a payment plan so you don’t get into arrears
- Help with budgeting for household bills
- Help with identifying ways that you could maximise your income
To find out more about money and debt advice, please contact your Housing Services Officer by calling 0800 587 3595 or use our contact us form.
Paying your rent and claiming Housing Benefit
Failure to pay your rent – rent arrears
As the Council’s managing agent, we are responsible for monitoring your rent payments and collecting any rent you owe (called arrears). You must pay your rent in full and on time, and your rent account must not show arrears at any time. If you don’t pay your rent, you will be breaking the conditions of your tenancy agreement and we will take tenancy enforcement action against you.
Good reasons not to get into rent arrears
- If you are evicted from your home for rent arrears, the Council will not normally rehouse you.
- You may have trouble getting credit such as loans and hire purchase
- A possession order always carries a money judgement (this affects your credit rating) for the amount of arrears, plus court costs. This lasts for twelve years.
- You may not be able to get a mortgage if building societies and other lenders ask us for a rent payment reference.
- You won’t normally be able to get a transfer (move to another home) or carry out a mutual exchange (swap homes with someone else).
- You won’t be allowed to rent a garage, parking space or car cage. If you already rent one, it will be taken away from you.
- You risk losing your right to buy your home
If you do get into rent arrears
If you are struggling to pay your rent, contact your Income Officer, who will be able to advise you. We will do all we can to help keep you in your home and we will consider legal action only when we have tried everything else.
If you have rent arrears and ignore the situation, your Income Officer will take action to recover the amount owing. As long as your rent account is in arrears, we are obliged to contact you.
Legal action to recover rent arrears
If you do not pay your rent despite our attempts to contact you, we will serve you with a Notice of Seeking Possession. If you still don’t pay the arrears we will apply to the Court for a Possession Order. The Court will set a hearing for your case, which you must attend. If the Court agrees with our application they will grant either;
A Suspended Possession Order– this means that as long as you make the payments that the Court has ordered, we will take no further action. But if you break the agreement, we will apply for a bailiffs warrant to evict you.
A Full or Outright Possession Order – this means that the Court grants us possession of the property, and we can immediately apply to evict you.
If the Court grants either of these orders, you will lose some of your tenancy rights and it will affect your security of tenure. You may also have to pay extra costs that the Court may award us for having to take you to court.